by Nick Hanover
Today, June 5th, Bandcamp is waiving its cut of purchase fees to give all of the proceeds directly to artists, many of whom have chosen to donate those sales to non-profit organizations and causes in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement. Bandcamp will also be donating their proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense on June 19th, for Juneteenth. In honor of both of these efforts, we have decided to make a Bandcamp Buyer’s Guide highlighting 20 of our favorite black artists operating out of Austin.
Blackillac “Phantom (ft. Quin NFN)”
What’s the sound: On “Phantom,” three of Austin’s brightest hip hop stars come together and the result is unsurprisingly explosive. Na the Producer’s sparse, piano-driven beat leaves plenty of room for all three to shine, from Quin’s anarchic fury to Phranchyze’s laid back irreverence to Zeale’s smooth lyrical athleticism. You couldn’t possibly get a better sampling of the thrilling Austin hip hop scene in one place.
Black Pumas Black Pumas
What’s the sound: Not since the Daptone wave has their been a neo-soul movement as exciting as Black Pumas. The duo of fiery vocalist Eric Burton and celebrated guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada ignited a new national interest in the Austin soul scene and as far as debuts go, their eponymous full length is about as solid as it gets.
BLXPLTN New York Fascist Week
What’s the sound: A raw, heartwrenching, righteous work that blends electro-punk, hip hop and indie sounds and has an endless buffet of hooks, an unimpeachable classic that we named one of the top 10 Austin albums of the 2010s for a reason.
Charlie Belle Like I Love This
What’s the sound: A smart and puckish update on the indie sounds of acts like Rilo Kiley and Metric, Charlie Belle’s Like I Love This is mature without being a drag, poppy without being disposable.
Chief and TheDoomsdayDevice Panic Ruminations
What’s the sound: Joined by noise rap pioneers Moodie Black on production, Chief and TheDoomsdayDevice offers up his most incendiary and consistent work yet on Panic Ruminations. Full of howling guitars, screeching synths and apocalyptic raps, Panic Ruminations sounds like the end of the world but more importantly, it sparks inspiration for what comes next.
Christelle Bofale Swim Team
What’s the sound: On Swim Team, Christelle Bofale seemingly appeared fully formed out of absolutely nowhere, with a knack for melody and arrangement that would make Joni Mitchell envious and a voice that could go from snow soft to rumbling so fluidly it was like a clear day turning into a hurricane. This is the kind of release that heralds a voice that can’t be ignored.
Chucky BLK Late Summer//Early Fall
What’s the sound: A soul-searching, literary work of hazy beats and passionate raps, Chucky BLK’s Late Summer//Early Fall hearkens back to the work of Digable Planets and Saul Williams, with airy instrumentation and soulful energy.
Click-Clack Blue Eyed Black Boy
What’s the sound: Catchy as fuck but also reflective, absurd and challenging all at once, Click-Clack’s Blue Eyed Black Boy was a quantum leap forward for the rapper, bringing impressive melodicism and eccentric production to his already enviable lyrical prowess.
Curbside Jones Milk Tea Chronicles
What’s the sound: A wondrous and dreamy trip into the imagination of visual artist-rapper-producer Curbside Jones, Milk Tea Chronicles is a musical Adventure Time if it was reimagined by a secret relative of MF Doom and Lupe Fiasco.
What’s the sound: More X than The Dicks, on their eponymous debut EP, Dregs pair classic punk instrumentation with barbed wire back-and-forth vocals and an overall atmosphere of pogoing mayhem.
Eimaral Sol Sol Soliloquies
What’s the sound: Breezy, vibrant and lush, Sol Soliloquies is a remarkably unique and fresh approach to pop and R&B from Eimaral Sol, recalling Kali Uchis and Solange at their most daring.
Jackie Venson Joy
What’s the sound: On Joy, Austin’s reigning blues rock queen Jackie Venson expanded her sonic palette, bringing an almost St Vincent-like energy and twist to tracks like “Witchcraft” while bringing her blues roots firmly into the 21st century on electro-rock moments like “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.”
Jonny Jukebox IMT4U
What’s the sound: Austin has countless soul and R&B performers but the bulk of them are focused on gritty, southern fried traditionalist sounds. Not so for Jonny Jukebox, whose IMT4U firmly faces forward towards the future, bridging the irresistibly seductive timbre of Usher with the playful bounce of acts like Khalid and SZA.
LNS Crew LNS Crew Mixtape Vol. 3
What’s the sound: An excellent entrypoint to one of the most daring and eclectic hip hop collectives in the game, the third volume of LNS Crew’s mixtape series finds Tank Washington adding smooth hooks to his gritty street-level raps, Cory Kendrix bringing sinister trap tones to his electro-R&B and Kydd aiming squarely for club dominance without sacrificing any of the moody ambience and dexterous lyricism that has long made him one of the MVPs of Austin rap.
Magna Carda Like It Is
What’s the sound: Jazzy yet contemporary, chill yet bold, Magna Carda have rightfully ascended to the upper echelon of Austin live acts, with their brilliant instrumentation and Megz Kelli’s commanding vocal presence. Like It Is is their magnum opus, an epic and ambitious hip hop work that beautifully displays every facet of their personality.
Mobley Fresh Lies, Vol. 1
What’s the sound: Unabashedly poppy yet still fiery and poetic, Fresh Lies, Vol. 1 is a reflective, inventive and profound release that delivered on the promise of Mobley’s dazzling live performances and paved the way for a record deal with the influential indie label Last Gang.
Pleasure Venom Pleasure Venom
What’s the sound: Endorsed by none other than Shirley Manson, Pleasure Venom fuse together No Wave screech with soulful, anthemic vocals.
Poolboi Blu Rain of the Squids
What’s the sound: Over the past few years, Poolboi Blu has evolved from a lo-fi beatsmith to a bedroom R&B artist, while still retaining the shambling charm of his instrumental work. Rain of the Squids is a simultaneously smooth and brainy release (the title and several of the tracks reference seminal comics work Watchmen), making for an album that is endearingly vulnerable.
Riders Against the Storm See Me
What’s the sound: See Me expertly weaves together the bouncing good times of RAS’s Body Rock events with the reflective, insightful cultural awareness of their activist work for an Afrofuturist release that makes you think and dance at the same time.
Vonne Foreign Affairs
What’s the sound: Foreign Affairs announced Vonne as a Texan response to The Blow, with all the twinkling electronics and irresistible vocal hooks that entails. This is the sort of release you’ll have permanently stuck in your head before you’ve even finished listening to it for the first time.
Disclaimer: Ovrld manages Curbside Jones and Jonny Jukebox and is part of the Austin Managers Collective, of which Jackie Venson’s manager Louie Carr is a co-founder
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover